Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The Process of Learning

This past week I was back in a classroom setting......different than the last time I was in "school". There were so many flashbacks of my time at McGill University. First of all I was a block and a half from where I finished off my program at McGill, almost 30 years ago. Every day as I braved the Montreal traffic and drivers, never mind the roadways (more about that in a moment) I passed the Music Faculty where I'd practiced hours upon hours, day after day. One day melded into the next with no weekends or mornings or evenings. In order to get enough practice room time, we were there pretty much around the clock, or until the next door dorm residents would throw us out (we were percussionists after all). Each morning as I drove past the regal Queen Victoria Hall, I'd smile with memories of way back when, forgetting the cut-throat competitiveness of musicians wanting to be the ones picked as the elimination process took place semester after semester.

Now I was an adult, back in my home town, entering a realm I was at home in....well practiced......and eager to learn more.

To digress for a moment, driving through the streets of Montreal is pretty much like being trained for an RCMP licence. You not only have to avoid drivers going up a one-way street the wrong way, those making a right turn from the left lane, cutting me off in the process, pedestrians walking against lights, stepping off the curve in front of me as I rushed through the downtown core and pot holes the size of small towns (deserving of their own postal codes). My brother coined it perfectly. It's like driving through a war zone where streets look like they've been bombed. It's an obstacle course.

Class itself was amazing. There's no other way to put it. I was surrounded by knowledge. The main facilitator/teacher has about 36 published books under his belt, teaches and works all over the world and is the President of the school from which I'll receive my graduate level certification in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (focusing on Executive Coaching). There were many with their PhD's and Masters Degrees, though none had the years of experience I have. It was fascinating sharing perspectives and insights and I (patting myself on the back for a moment) am still feeling honoured that Bill, our esteemed teacher told the rest that they should have an opportunity to be coached by me as it's an experience not to be missed. So I found myself coaching non-stop, which turned into sharing the teaching as Observational Coaching came to play. I have more hours with that model than pretty much anyone. What I loved most was hearing their perspectives and using them to create yet another process and model for me to take back to my clients. In the 40 hours or so of experiential learning I was able to hone my Coaching skills and practice them on professionals. Not easy. They gave me a run for my money but I gave it back to them in spades. The way I look at it, it doesn't matter how much experience one has. You can always learn more and when I get to the point where I feel I know all there is, that's the time I want my friends and colleagues to give me a swift kick. There is always more to learn.....and everyone knows something I don't know which I can learn if I only listen.

Now it's again going back to the past in having to do a Practicum and write up a case study. Writing a paper. I never thought I'd be doing that again. Never say never (I have to remind myself of that). I look forward to choosing my client and starting that journey. It will most probably be a high level executive in the Yukon as they've requested the opportunity. In this wonderful age of technology, between the telephone and computers we can be halfway across the world and still have a close working relationship. And when I do go up there to meet my client it will be an experience I'm sure I'll never forget.

And through this experience I've met the most wonderful people who I hope to collaborate with and share what it is we learned, taking it with us on the next part of our journey. It's not easy going back to school no matter how long or short the course. But it is so fulfilling and made me realise how much I still want to learn, experience and grow.

Here's to what's to come!
Donna Karlin

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